Friday, May 8, 2009

tornado drills and talking

Last night I had the fabulous opportunity of talking to my nephew, who is 9, on the telephone. This is in itself is almost miraculous. I was thrilled he came to the phone (even if I asked so his mom could quickly take care of something she needed to do), and even more thrilled that I got a few sentences that were more than one word answers.
Wednesday morning my hometown of Cordova, AL was hit by a tornado. I peppered him with questions, and one of his answers reminded me of a part of my childhood I had forgotten: the hallway chatter. In the Walker County School system, schools have two types of drills that happen on a regular basis: fire and tornado. During a tornado drill, you grab a hard-back textbook, exit the room in single file, line up, crouching, with your back against the wall in the hall, tuck your head between your knees, and hold the opened textbook over your head. If a teacher knows it's a drill and not the real thing, sometimes you can take the book off your head once she realizes you know what to do. But when it is the real thing, some teachers go into drill sergeant mode. NO TALKING! Others want to soothe and assure so you're allowed to talk as long as it doesn't get too loud. Mason said the first thirty minutes there was absolutely no talking (the school lost power) from any class, and the last thirty minutes they could talk for a little bit. During the non-drill times, I always thought it was a waste when we had to sit out in the hallway with nothing to do but we weren't allowed to talk.
Cordova, in Mason's words, "is a mess." No one was injured, but downtown (i.e. buildings aligning one street) is missing roofs, awnings, and has warped mailboxes (the big ones). Personally, I think downtown should be dozed and rebuilt (or at least totally renovated), but I would never utter such words in public there or I might be tarred and feathered. I don't know if that makes me unappreciative or too concerned about outward appearances, but sometimes I think it would be cool to go back and redo downtown. But that moves from rejoicing to daydreaming, so I better sign off.

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